Ghost in the Machine

Happy Halloween, fellow future hunters!  This has always been my favorite holiday, perhaps because it’s the one time of year that we all celebrate mystery and the great unknown.  Today, in the spirit of the season, I offer you a glimpse of the ghosts of the future.  Hint: chain-rattling is not involved.

Ghostly fingers on a keyboard

courtesy Hobvias Sudoneighm

It starts with brain-computer interfaces: a technology that many people would consider science fiction, but which I assure you is quite real.  Once your brain and your computer are humming along in sync, we add in a technology called whole brain emulation.  This means perfectly replicating the structure (and state) of a human brain within a computer system.  (I’m personally a bit skeptical about this part, but there are plenty of neuroinformatics researchers who think it can be accomplished.)

Then you link to it, use your own brain state as the model, and presto!  Your mind has been uploaded.

Now, look what you get if you do that: a consciousness that is incorporeal, outlives its original body and carries the desires and personality of the once-living person.

Sounds like a ghost to me!

So be careful out there tonight.  Even if you’re trick-or-treating in virtual reality, there’s no telling what might be lurking behind the next corner!

What do YOU think?

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